Graduate Students Help Turn Center’s Mission into Reality

This photo shows a young Caucasian blond woman on a computer screen with a lake scene behind her and a talk title also on the slide behind her, "Lake forecasting: A crystal ball for crystal clear water."
Abby Lewis was one of ten speakers selected from 63 applicants from around the world to participate in “There’s No Time Like the Presentation.”

We love the ripple effect of what we do at the Center for Communicating Science. Despite the coronavirus pandemic upending our lives, spring semester saw many such ripples. Graduate students associated with the center have been communicating their work and helping others learn to communicate, too.

Susan Chen and Stephanie Edwards Compton, Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) course graduates and co-founders of the new student Communicating Science Club, saw months of planning play out over the 2-day ComSciCon-VA Tech 2020, February 27-28. Their 12-member organizing committee, all graduate students, made sure that speakers and participants were welcomed, food showed up and was served, workshops and panels were moderated, and collaborations with visitors from the University of Virginia got underway. Thanks and congratulations to the entire organizing committee!

On February 20, two other Communicating Science course graduates, Sara Teemer and Vasiliy Lakoba, facilitated roundtable discussions and lightning talk development for 25 participants at a Biochemistry Graduate Student Association interdisciplinary event to learn about networking and communication skills. On March 3, Teemer facilitated a workshop for 22 first-year undergraduate students in the Orion Living-Learning Community. This workshop prepared students for giving short research presentations at the end of the semester. Teemer incorporated exercises learned in GRAD 5144 and adapted them for the needs of the undergrads. Thank you, Sara and Vasiliy!

Also in March, Communicating Science student Brittany Nackley won 2nd prize in a competition run by Macmillan Publishers with an essay in which she reflects on her Nutshell Games experience and her journey in higher education. Nackley is a Ph.D. student in the psychology department. Congratulations, Brittany!

In other “ripple effects” news, Communicating Science student Abby Lewis was one of ten researchers selected from a pool of 63 applicants from all over the world who submitted brief video-recorded research presentations to the organization Skype a Scientist. On May 12, 2020, the ten selected researchers gave talks via Zoom at the live event “No Time like the Presentation.” Lewis’s 10-minute talk, “Lake Forecasting: A Crystal Ball for Crystal Clear Water,” can be seen here. Congratulations, Abby!

Communicating Science course graduate Aaron Whittemore finished his master’s degree in geography this spring and has accepted a communicating science internship with Washington State University. As the Science Communications and Outreach Intern with the Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, he will be helping to communicate the results of a 4-year transdisciplinary National Science Foundation project on catastrophic wildfires. Whittemore is also working with the Virginia Tech Water INTERface IGEP to translate their recent research into a series of articles intended for a general public readership. Best wishes in your new jobs, Aaron!

Ruoding Shi, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Virginia who earned her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech, has published some of the results of her graduate research on American Scientist‘s Macroscope blog. “Heat, Illness, and Hope in Coal Country” tells in written form a story that Ruoding has shared as a participant in the Nutshell Games, a speaker for Science on Tap, and a student in GRAD 5144, Communicating Science. Good luck with your post-doc, Ruoding!

Graduate student Sevda Ozturksari worked with center associate director Carrie Kroehler to design a workshop for the undergraduate students with whom she works in landscape architecture. Presenting design plans to clients can be a nerve-wracking experience for landscape architects, and Ozturksari wanted to share some of the confidence-building exercises she had learned in Communicating Science. Along with another graduate teaching assistant, Dan Li, Ozturksari facilitated “Communication Begins with Listening” for about 25 undergrads on January 24. Thanks for passing along work that you’ve found valuable!

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